April 20, 2023
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Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
Dan Diker, President - Yechiel Leiter, Director General

In-Depth Issues:

UN Instructs PA to Take Responsibility for Israelis Held by Hamas in Gaza - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities told the Palestinian Authority two weeks ago to investigate the incarceration of Israelis Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
    The two are being held in Gaza, which is under Hamas rule.
    The committee instructed the PA to see that the two receive adequate medical treatment, since they suffer from psychiatric problems, and asked the PA to present a document detailing its actions within six months.

Iran Fears Israel Will Join Forces with Azerbaijan and Turkey - Ayoob Kara (Israel Hayom)
    Iran's Foreign Ministry recently claimed that the establishment of Azerbaijan's new embassy in Tel Aviv, where Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen called for a "united front" against Iran, constituted a clear national security threat to Iran.
    The Iranians are greatly concerned that their neighbor is increasingly becoming close to the country it calls the "little Satan," with Azerbaijan supplying Israel with oil and Israel being one of the main arms suppliers for Azerbaijan.
    Around the same time, six Iranian spies were arrested in Baku and four Iranian diplomats were declared persona non grata in Azerbaijan.
    These incidents occurred after Iran attempted to assassinate an Azerbaijani MP and attacked the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran, killing a security guard.
    The Iranians fear that Israel, Azerbaijan, and Turkey will join forces with Azerbaijanis inside Iran, who will work together with other ethnic groups in the country to topple the mullahs' regime.
    In the eyes of Tehran, this is a greater threat than a direct Israeli military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
    The writer, an Israeli Druze, is a former Minister of Communications and a veteran Knesset member.

Iran Sees Rise in Executions in 2022 - Danielle Greyman-Kennard (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran executed 582 people in 2022, according to a report by Iran Human Rights (IHR), a 75% rise from 2021.
    30% were from the Sunni Muslim Baluch minority, who comprise just 2-6% of the population.

Small Bedouin Community Flies Israeli Flag with Pride - Yahel Ili Benami (Ynet News)
    Al-Sayed is a small Bedouin tribal community of about 6,000 people nestled between Arad and Beersheba in Israel's Negev desert.
    Ibrahim al-Sayed, principal of the Amal al-Sayed Multidisciplinary School in the al-Qasum Regional Council, sees no conflict between the Bedouin and Israeli identities.
    Ibrahim worked with his students to hang Israeli flags throughout their village in honor of Israel's upcoming 75th anniversary.
    "We all live for this country, we must integrate and not get stuck in the past. I refuse to feel ashamed for displaying the Israeli flag on my watch," he said.
    Ibrahim explains that he upholds the tradition that his father passed down to him by hanging the national flag at the entryway to the settlement every year.

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Iron Dome Is Not Enough to Make Israel Safe - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Prof. Geoffrey S. Corn (Newsweek)
    News of attacks against Israel and retaliatory airstrikes seem as common as the news of mass shootings in the U.S.
    Since the early 2000s, Israel - in close cooperation with the U.S. - has developed perhaps the most impressive counter-missile defense system in the world: Iron Dome.
    Yet Iron Dome, like any defensive system, has its limits.
    Unlike past flareups between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the most recent attacks have come from Lebanon and Syria.
    These areas are controlled by Hizbullah, whose 150,000 missiles represent a fundamentally different security challenge than that posed by Hamas.
    This capacity enables Hizbullah to threaten Israel with a missile campaign that would rapidly overwhelm Iron Dome and necessitate prioritizing the protection of vital infrastructure at the expense of civilian exposure.
    U.S. support for Israel's military readiness is critically important to ensure the protection of Israel from missile attacks and enable precise and decisive action in self-defense.
    Supporting Israel's ability to defend itself from the threats from all sides should be a source of unity for Americans.
    The writer is chair of Criminal Law and director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law.

Israel to Supply Greece with Tactical UAVs as Part of Spike Missile Deal (European Defence Review-France)
    Israel-based Aeronautics Ltd. announced on Monday a contract to supply dozens of its Orbiter 3 systems to the Greek Ministry of Defense as part of a larger contract for the procurement of Rafael's Spike missiles.
    The Orbiter 3 systems detect targets for the Spike missiles.
    The Orbiter 3 has advanced Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities, is runway-independent, has long endurance, the capability of carrying various types of payloads, advanced image processing, a small logistical footprint, navigation including in a GPS-denied environment, and the ability to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Israeli Firm Uses Artificial Intelligence to Match Drugs to Patients - Natalie Lisbona (BBC News)
    Dr. Talia Cohen Solal, a neuroscientist, is the co-founder and chief executive of Israeli health-tech firm Genetika+.
    Established in 2018, the company's technology can best match antidepressants to patients, to avoid unwanted side effects and make sure that the prescribed drug works as well as possible.
    "We can characterize the right medication for each patient the first time" by combining the latest in stem cell technology - the growing of specific human cells - with artificial intelligence (AI) software, says Dr. Cohen Solal.
    While the technology is currently still in the development stage, Genetika+ intends to launch commercially next year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 41 Senators Back Joint U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Programs - Marc Rod
    41 U.S. senators, including 32 Democrats and nine Republicans, have signed a letter supporting full funding - $500 million - for joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs in 2024. The letter is organized annually by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mike Rounds (R-SD). It highlights the importance of counter-drone programs to defending both Israel and U.S. service members from attacks by Iran and its proxies. (Jewish Insider)
  • Israel Stands Still in Nationwide Moment of Silence for the Six Million Jews Killed in the Holocaust
    Israel ground to a halt for a two-minute nationwide moment of silence on Tuesday morning in remembrance of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust as a siren wailed across the country. Vehicles and pedestrians halted on streets and highways as Israelis stood, heads bowed.
        A third of the world's Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and hundreds of thousands of survivors fled to the Jewish state. Official observances started Monday evening with a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem as six survivors lit torches. (AP)
        See also below Observations: Six Essential Facts about the Holocaust - Sivan Rahav-Meir (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Foreign Minister Visits Azerbaijan ahead of Opening Embassy in Turkmenistan near Iran Border - Jonathan Lis
    Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen concluded his visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday where he discussed regional security issues, before inaugurating the first Israeli embassy in Turkmenistan, 20 km. from the Iranian border. Diplomatic sources say that Israel's strengthened relations with two countries that border Iran is largely intended to convey a message to Tehran. The relationships are largely built on common concern over Iran's growing influence in the region. Diplomatic sources in Israel say that the tightening of relations with Azerbaijan will also lead to rapprochement with a series of other countries in Central Asia in the near future. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Israelis Wounded in Jerusalem Shooting Attack - Nir Hasson
    Two Israeli men who pray regularly at the Tomb of Simon the Just (Shimon HaTzadik) in Jerusalem were wounded on Tuesday by a man who ran toward their vehicle and shot them at close range. After the attacker fled, Hamas called for eastern Jerusalem's Palestinians to protect the "hero" who carried out the attack. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Arrests Palestinian Responsible for Jerusalem Shooting Attack
    Israeli security forces announced on Wednesday the arrest in Nablus of the Palestinian who carried out the shooting attack in Jerusalem on Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Woman Stabs Israeli in Gush Etzion - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli man at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem on Monday evening. IDF troops fired at the terrorist and wounded her in the leg. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Arrests Three Palestinian Explosives Specialists in Jenin
    Israeli security forces arrested three Palestinian explosives specialists in Jenin on Tuesday. The terrorists planned to move the explosives to an Israeli city, where another individual would set off the explosion. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shots Fired at Israeli Bus in Samaria
    A public bus traveling in Samaria was hit by multiple bullets on Wednesday evening, the IDF confirmed. No injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Israeli Democracy

  • A New Middle-Ground Israeli Identity Is Being Forged - Naama Sikuler
    Prof. David Passig, an associate professor at Bar-Ilan University, is an Israeli futurist. Despite the split in Israeli society and the demonstrations, he is optimistic. "For 3,000 years, the Jewish people have felt they are at war with one another. Our discussions are always held at high volume, so the current process is entirely natural to the Jewish character....Now everything has risen to the surface, and that's excellent. Both sides are going to learn from each other. They won't do it by choice, but they will do it out of necessity."
        "Even though the process of mutual learning will take some time, and even if there will be very painful stages, in all it's a process of establishing a nation that was scattered, both geographically and ideologically....We came to the State of Israel as people who were strangers to one other - with different styles, different traditions, and a diverse definition of Jewishness - in order to build one nation with a cohesive identity. And that is really difficult. So far, we've succeeded quite well."  (Globes)
  • Rethinking Our Path - Amb. Dror Eydar
    We have shared a common fate throughout our long history as a nation. Beating within us was a constant desire to live, not to commit national suicide, to remain together as a people, despite the disputes. The perennial question that has accompanied us from the dawn of our existence has been, "Who are we?" - what identity do we want for ourselves as a nation? This is the question that is at the core of the dispute between us today.
        There is no need to fear controversy, even if it is fierce. It is through disagreement that we build ourselves and clarify our life's truths. This is our democratic tradition. We need the other's opinion to understand our own, to sharpen it, and sometimes even to correct it. This constant process of debate is the secret to our existence. It has given us a unique ability to adapt our identity to changing historical circumstances.
        The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to Italy. (Israel Hayom)

  • Palestinian Arabs

  • The New Generation of Palestinian Armed Groups: A Paper Tiger?
    A new generation of unaligned, independent armed groups has arisen among West Bank Palestinians, driven by frustration with the Palestinians' own ineffective leadership. It is no coincidence that the first such groups popped up in May 2021, after the PA cancelled legislative and presidential elections.
        The PA has worked to undercut the groups, resorting mainly to covert measures to do so. First, the PA is accusing the new groups' members of having criminal backgrounds. Such warnings resonate with many West Bank residents, who remember the second intifada in the early 2000s, when men with guns engaged in extortion in several towns. In Nablus, where an armed group called Lions' Den is active, the PA has even sent its own supporters, posing as Lions' Den members, to shake down businesses in an attempt to tarnish the group's reputation. The PA also seeks to co-opt those who agree to disarm by offering them jobs in the security forces, cars and money.
        The two largest groups are the Jenin Brigades - 200 militants at most - drawn mostly from disgruntled members of Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Lions' Den in Nablus, which has at most 100 members, mainly dissidents from Fatah but also some Hamas elements. Many members have freely shared their names online and their actions appear highly performative, embellished through excited declarations on the social media platform Telegram. They have no apparent political agenda, organization or strategy. (International Crisis Group-Belgium)
  • Why Palestinians Cannot Resume Peace Talks with Israel - Bassam Tawil
    The Palestinian campaign to vilify Israel and demonize Jews, as manifested in the rhetoric of their leaders and the Palestinian media, mosques and schools, has made it impossible for any Palestinian leader to seek a negotiated and peaceful settlement with Israel. A Palestinian leader who repeatedly condemns a visit by Jews to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site, as a "violent storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque," can never agree to sit at the same negotiating table with Jews.
        These leaders have radicalized their people against Israel and Jews. If you tell your people that the Israelis are perpetrating "war crimes," "desecrating mosques" and "stealing land," what will the Palestinians think of you when they see you sitting with an Israeli? Recently, a group of Palestinian clan leaders and businessmen who were invited to an iftar (Ramadan fast-breaking meal) with Jews, received threats and were accused by many Palestinians of treason.
        Many Palestinians see no difference between a Jew living in a Jewish community in the West Bank and a Jew living in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. For them, all Jews are foreigners who have no right ever to live there. The Palestinians still have not come to terms with Israel's right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people, or as a place for anyone other than Muslims.
        Palestinian leaders will never agree to a "negotiated two-state solution" with Israel as long as the message they are sending to the Palestinians says that Jews have no right to their own homeland. The belief that Palestinian leaders may soon resume the "peace process" with Israel indicates self-deception and wishful thinking. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • Bereaved Husband and Father Challenges International Media to Cover Israel Fairly - Gil Hoffman
    Rabbi Leo Dee's wife, Lucy, and his daughters, Maia and Rina, were murdered in a Palestinian shooting attack in the Jordan Valley. They were targeted because they were Jews. Thrust into the spotlight, Rabbi Dee used his pulpit to challenge the international media to cover Israel fairly. His message was, "Never accept terror as legitimate, never blame the murder on the victims, and there is no such thing as moral equivalence between terrorist and victim. The terrorist is always bad."
        "We can't trust the news - sorry, gentlemen," Dee said at a press conference. He dared the foreign press to stop criticizing Israel for existing. "Isn't that how the world media treats Israel? We build, they murder us, they destroy. [They say] it's your fault, since you built it in the first place."
        He implored world media, "Do you really believe in moral equivalence? Will you continue to support evil by giving it a voice? Am I and my family really a threat to world peace? We who teach kindness and love? We who value life over anything else? Is this anonymous killer really justified? Is he progressing moral values and a future for himself? Come on! Wake up! Listen to your souls."
        The writer, former chief political correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, is executive director of HonestReporting. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Water Libel: Does Israel Deny Palestinians Access to Water? - Chaim Lax
    Israel's critics claim that Israeli authorities withhold water from local Palestinians, that Israel steals water that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians, and that Israel purposefully pollutes Palestinian water sources. All of these allegations have no basis in fact.
        Prior to 1967 in the West Bank, some major cities had access to a pipeline system installed by the British Mandate decades earlier, while most of the local Palestinian population relied on ancient aqueducts and wells. Following the Six-Day War, Israel improved the West Bank water system by upgrading and extending pipelines. When the Israeli Civil Administration connected Jewish Israeli communities to Israel's national water carrier, it also connected Palestinian population centers to the same water carrier. As a result, between 1967 and 1995, the Palestinian water supply nearly doubled and per capita Palestinian water usage neared Israeli levels.
        As part of the 1995 Oslo II interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, both signed a detailed Water Agreement. It obligates Israel to supply West Bank Palestinians with 31 million cubic meters of water per year - but Israeli actually provides much more than required.
        So what accounts for any water shortages that Palestinian communities may experience? The main fault lies with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA). A number of international observers (including the World Bank) have noted a culture of mismanagement within the PWA. This includes a lack of infrastructure maintenance, which causes a 33% loss of water due to leaks and theft (three times the amount of water that the Israeli water system loses). Moreover, the PA rejected an Israeli proposal to build a desalination plant along the coast for the benefit of Palestinians in the northern West Bank. (HonestReporting)
        See also How Water Became a Weapon in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - Yochanan Visser (Jerusalem Post)

  • Antisemitism

  • Islamist Antisemitism in the U.S. - Yehudit Barsky and Ehud Rosen
    Over the past decade, American Islamist groups, such as those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, have developed "red-green" alliances with American progressives to recast themselves as advocates of human and minority rights. While Islamists in the U.S. frequently purport to be the "voice" of the Muslim community, Islamists do not represent the majority of American Muslims. A 2017 Pew study revealed that the majority of American Muslims do not attend mosque weekly, 64% believe there is more than one way to interpret Islam, and 52% believe that traditional understandings of Islam must be reinterpreted.
        In 2019, four violent followers of al-Qaeda, Hamas, and ISIS were arrested for plotting four separate terror attacks, including plans to bomb and shoot at two synagogues, bomb an area targeting Jews, and to shoot at Jewish and pro-Israel demonstrators. In January 2022 a terrorist incident at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, was carried out by Malik Faisal Akram, a British Islamist. In November 2022, the FBI arrested Omar Alkattoul, a young radicalized Muslim, for threatening to attack a synagogue and Jewish people.
        The mainstreaming of Islamist-oriented groups, political figures, and like-minded extremists who promote antisemitism poses an emerging political and societal challenge. These groups have energized the use of blatant antisemitism directed at American Jews among their political allies. They have increasingly sought to reject the participation of mainstream American Jewish organizations in the public discourse. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Weekend Features

  • Ben Ferencz Prosecuted the Einsatzgruppen in the Largest Murder Case in History - Emily Langer
    Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor, died April 7 at 103. In 1947 he prosecuted what would be called the largest murder case in history against 22 authorities of the mobile Nazi killing units, called Einsatzgruppen, that operated in Eastern Europe during World War II. All the defendants were convicted. Four were executed. If not for Ferencz, a former Army investigator who personally tallied the million deaths using sequestered German war documents and brought the case to his superiors, the men might never have been tried.
        Ferencz graduated from Harvard Law School, where he studied war crimes before joining the Army midway through World War II. He was detailed to an investigations unit collecting evidence of Nazi crimes, and visited Nazi concentration camps, including Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Dachau. "Even today, when I close my eyes, I witness a deadly vision I can never forget - the crematoria aglow with the fire of burning flesh, the mounds of emaciated corpses stacked like cordwood waiting to be burned," he once said. "I had peered into hell."
        Ferencz recalled that one defendant had ordered his troops: "If the mother is holding an infant to her breast, don't shoot the mother, shoot the infant because the bullet will go through both of them, and you'll save ammunition." Ferencz called no witnesses; the copious Nazi documentation was sufficient to obtain convictions. He argued that the defendants had acted not according to "military necessity, but by that supreme perversion of thought: the Nazi theory of the master race."  (Washington Post)
  • Archeologists Explore the Former Warsaw Ghetto - Monika Sieradzka
    Archeological work on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto began in the summer of 2022. The Germans set up the Ghetto in October 1940, the largest in occupied Europe. From here, 300,000 people were sent to their deaths in the gas chambers of the extermination camps. Before World War II there were almost 3.5 million Jews living in Poland, making up 10% of the population. In Warsaw, it was 30%. During the Holocaust, 3 million Polish Jews were murdered.
        Historian Albert Stankowski picked up a charred door handle with a key still inserted in its keyhole. He explained that "When people were deported to the concentration camps, there was an order from the Germans that Jews had to leave their keys in the door so that the Nazi occupiers could take the apartments over without delay." The archeological findings will be exhibited in the Museum of the Warsaw Ghetto to be opened in 2025. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • The Ruthlessness of the Holocaust and the Dignity of Jewish Resistance - Alex Ryvchin
    Nazism was unique. Nazism would not rest until it hunted and destroyed every single living Jew. The actual process of mass-killing, a quantum leap from the intense persecution that preceded it, occurred as a blitzkrieg. In March 1942, almost 80% of the eventual victims of the Holocaust were still alive. By February 1943, that number was reversed - 80% of the 6 million were already dead. When the Final Solution became policy, murder became industrialized.
        But acts of resistance great and small, organized and individual, can be found in every aspect and in every phase of the Holocaust. Armed groups resisted the Nazis in 110 ghettos and camps. The resistors knew they would die. They resisted to restore their dignity and that of their people, to assert their honor. This, to me, is the height of bravery and nobility.
        The dying words of the resistors speak to us now. They did not go quietly, they did not give up. They teach us what it means to have courage, to be strong even when faced with an unstoppable force. And we marvel at their greatness.
        The writer is Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (ABC-Australia)
        See also The Bravery of the Jewish Ghetto Rebels that We Have Not Heard Of - Ariel Bulshtein (Israel Hayom)

Six Essential Facts about the Holocaust - Sivan Rahav-Meir (Times of Israel)

I share the following facts every year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, courtesy of Prof. Yosef Ben-Shlomo; six historical facts that we need to internalize in order to understand why the Holocaust was such an extraordinarily unique event:
  1. Judenrein. For the first time in history (other than Haman's plot against the Jews in ancient Persia), one nation sought the complete elimination of another, despite the fact that the vast majority of the nation targeted for extermination lived outside the territory of the aggressor nation. The goal was not to just put the other nation into exile but to erase it from the face of the earth.
  2. Absence of opposition. In the Wannsee Conference of January 1942, the "final solution" was unanimously approved by the 15 attendees, all of whom held high-ranking ministerial positions in the German government, and 8 of whom held doctorate degrees.
  3. The Germans worked against their own interests in World War II. Even as Germany was losing the war, they behaved irrationally. Instead of investing in fighting enemy forces, the Germans continued "to waste" energy on their Jewish extermination project.
  4. They were not crazy. Among the murderers were family men and women, professionals, and intellectuals. They were perfectly sane. Millions of ordinary, regular folks did not see any problem with taking part in this giant extermination project.
  5. The concentration camps were not bombed. The death factories continued to operate without interference by the Western allied nations or their armies, even while the allies regularly bombed Nazi munitions factories.
  6. There was no way out. Unlike their ability to cope with other horrendous decrees and persecutions throughout history, the Jews of Europe had no way out. There was no possibility of saving themselves through cooperation with the enemy, or by being exiled or by conversion to another faith. Death was their only option.
Today we face Holocaust denial, ignorance, and forgetfulness, as well as claims that the Holocaust was not a unique or particularly anti-Jewish event. It is therefore more important than ever to remember what happened and never to forget.

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